Nov 28, 2006 5:39am
Re: really, really long subject heading
As I see it, there are 9 incarnations of the dead. The original quintet, add mickey, add t.c., (lose t.c, then mickey and you are back to the first two formats), add Keith, lose Keith and add Brent, lose Brent and add Vince, add Bruce.
You could also go chronologically:
I forget the proper Bruce dates.
Each band, as it were, is different. Different approach, different style, different tunes, different presentation, different instruments, and different personnel.
Like the Stones: Brian Jones gets booted for Mick Taylor (the golden age). Taylor quits and we get Ron Wood (disco Stones). Bill Wyman retires, and so on. The times, they are a changin'.
Everyone here has a preference. It is my belief that most folks prefer the dead that they got to see. Not all, of course. Some wish they could have seen them at other times, some never saw them, some fell asleep and missed long stretches, and so on. But most go with what they were part of.
Me, I was part of the birth of the dead--well, not quite. But I was part of the coming out of the dead. This was a band that was integral to the times, not incidental. They were part of the soundtrack. The Dead! Strong, bluesy, trippy--an experience. But it was also, for the first years, a relatively intimate experience. I enjoyed seeing them as psychedellic cowboys in small venues. I don't think I missed a single show at the Fillmore East, for example. And they are forever connected to my adolescence and formative years.
At the head of the table sat, of course, Captain Trips. This is the man who bravely led them into the quest for the unknown. This is the consummate musician's musician, the alchemist, the chief conspiritor, the masterind. But at the other end of the table lurked Ron McKernan. Against the backdrop of these fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants acid drenched musicians was the rock that kept them from flying off forever. The Pig. The man. The showstopper. The most beautiful ugly guy you would ever see. General Hootchie Cootchie. The man whose voice might be questionable (jeeze-what about bobby d.?), but whose soulfulness was genuine and beyond reproach. His stage presence was powerful enough to hold the entire audience captive. "Now listen here, fellas."
When he admonished us to get our hands out of our pockets, our hands were in the air so he could see we were doing right by his teachings. No one dared be caught playing pocket pool. The professor. The Reverend Ron.
Having been in the stratosphere for an hour, soaring on the wings of Dark Star--St. Stephen--the Eleven---------
BOOOM! back to earth with Lovelight. And what a fine earth it was, having been sanctified by the boys. And now the Rev. was at the pulpit, testifying and telling us God's truth. Listen to "It's a Man's Man's World."
And the musicians followed him, lifted him up to preach the gospel and set us free. Listen how tight the band is on "Lovelight."
I suppose you had to be there to really understand what went down on these nights. All of these thousands of tapes we have do not compare to being there. So, you hear a vocalist who seems a tad off key, whose rane is limited, and who seems rather obsessed with pony riding. I see the answer to Billy Sunday. I see the light. I see the Pig.
I hear the truth, I hear the deep cry of the blues, I hear the pain, and I hear the joy. Listen to "Empty Pages" and then listen to "Hard to Handle." And tell me that 4-28-71 isn't as tight and powerful as the band ever got.
What does this all mean?
You suck, and you still have to die.
That's all there is to it.
If you want a shot at redemption, go forth and listen. Listen to "Smokestack Lightin'" from Bear's Choice. Listen to "The Same Thing." If that don't get to you, Tin Man . . . . . just follow Dorothy back to Kansas.
It's hot in hell . . . . . ;)